PHILLIPS — Fire Chief Jim Gould credits a mailman who noticed flames in the woods behind a Reeds Mill Road property Wednesday morning with saving a nearby house and four dogs trapped inside.

With the homeowners away when the fire started, the mailman’s 911 call alerted emergency responders around 11 a.m. before the fast-spreading blaze engulfed the home on a remote stretch of dirt road, he said.

Gould said homeowners Mark and Shelley Keene came “pretty close to losing everything” to the fire and were lucky that the mailman was there at the right moment.

A pile of ashes from a wood-burning stove that had been dumped behind the home caught nearby leaves and grass on fire and the flames spread to a shed before firefighters arrived within minutes of the emergency call, Gould said.

Heat from the flames melted vinyl siding on the home and a garage, but about 30 firefighters from three area departments extinguished the fire before it spread to the structures just a few steps away, he said.

Later in the day, the Keenes were in their backyard watching firefighters pick through a charred pile of debris where the shed had burned down. Their house and barn showed the effects of the heat — a large section of peeling siding.

The couple didn’t want to discuss details, but Shelley Keene said they wanted to thank the firefighters, mailman and neighbors who rushed over to help save the four dogs that had been inside their 1353 Reeds Mill Road home.

Forest Ranger Mark Rousseau told the couple they could face fines and penalties for violations tied to the ash pile that caused the fire, but he added that they would be issued a written warning instead.

It was the second fire in Franklin County this month caused by ashes from a wood-burning stove. A New Sharon grass fire charred two acres on April 1.

People who dump ashes, or other flammable materials, that start a fire may be summoned on an improper disposal of ignited material charge. A conviction often brings fines tied to reimbursing the emergency response cost, which can reach thousands of dollars when multiple agencies respond, Rousseau said, and a person could be held liable for damage to other property damaged by the fire.

He said neither recent Franklin County case warranted filing a charge because the damage was contained to the homeowners’ property.

Because recent unseasonably warm and dry weather has created prime conditions for wild fires, Rousseau hopes people will see the damage caused and be more cautious when handling flammable materials.

“It’s a lesson people don’t want to have to learn firsthand,” he said.

Emergency responders from Strong and Salem Township fire departments assisted at the fire scene Wednesday, bringing several fire tankers and other emergency vehicles, according to Gould, of Phillips Fire Department.